My Issue with Fuji Cameras

Fuji X-T20. Awesome looks, poor handling.

Of all the mirrorless camera systems currently available, my favorite is Fuji's lineup. Their cameras feature vintage looks, exceptional image quality, a stellar lens lineup, and perhaps the best customer service in the business. Fuji makes incredible cameras and their lenses, oh my god. They're amazing. Unlike Sony who seems to be focused predominantly on specs, Fuji's cameras seem to be crafted with a lot of love and understanding regarding the joys of picture taking.

However, if I have any knock on their system it is in ergonomics. Besides the X-Pro2 and X-T2, I think many of the Fuji cameras suffer from an ergonomics problem, mainly the actual grip of the camera. I recently purchased an X-T20 which I wanted to use as my casual, everyday camera when I'm out and about and want something better than my iPhone. Unfortunately, after a couple days of using it I found myself frustrated and annoyed by the grip of the camera. I often like to use my camera on handed whether in landscape or portrait orientation. I could never seem to get a sure enough grip on the camera and it felt cumbersome to do for long periods of time.

I discovered Fuji makes a hand grip for the X-T20 and purchased one of those as well. Mind you, I don't have particularly large hands, but even with the grip, holding the camera comfortably for hours on end felt like a chore. I experienced a similar issue with the X100F a couple years ago which resulted in me passing on it. 

Where I do give credit to Sony and other camera companies is they seem to understand you should be able to comfortably hold a camera in your hand. The grips on their a7's and a6000 series cameras get it right. On Fuji's $1200 and lower models, they miss the mark in the ergonomics department. And if you want to improve the camera's handling, you have to purchase the hand grip which adds another $120 to the cost. A company called Lensmate, also makes a great thumbgrip for the camera, but it costs $60. So now you've invested up to an extra $180 into a camera which could have gone towards the purchase of the X-T2 which features the same sensor with a better viewfinder and better handling by default.

As a result of the handling, the X-T20 ended up going back to the store. I feel like it's a missed opportunity for Fuji. If the grip would have been slightly better, I think it would be an extremely hard camera to beat in the price range and a great introduction to Fuji's system for newcomers. Alas, it just didn't work out for me. I'm sure there are those who love it's small size and work with the stock grip well. If so, you're fortunate to be able to enjoy such a small capable camera.

So what camera did I end up going with instead? For my money, the best value and most fun to use camera in that price range is Panasonic's G85.

Panasonic G85. Pint size fun.

Panasonic G85. Pint size fun.

It is a micro four-thirds camera, but in terms of features and usability, I think it whips the pants off the X-T20. While the X-T20 does best it in terms of image quality, it's not by much. I had been reluctant in the past to invest in a micro four-thirds camera due to sensor size and perceived lack of depth of field when compared to larger sensor cameras, but so far it hasn't been a concern. As a walkaround camera, it's phenomenal. Easy to hold with one hand, incredible built in image stabilization, excellent lens lineup, and it also does stunning video. The only minor gripe I have is it only being 16 megapixels. I would have preferred 20 or more, but this isn't my workhorse camera and I don't plan to print very large prints. So 16 Megapixels should do.

Expect me to post more images and musings on the G85 as I find time to shoot with it a bit more.

In closing, I'd just like to encourage Fuji to consider improving the ergonomics on their lower-end cameras. I think it would benefit both their sales and interested users greatly. If a camera is awkward to hold and use, then that makes it no fun to use. When it's not fun, why bother?

For now, I'm rocking with my Panny.